Tuukka Rask: 'The city of Boston deserves the playoffs'

Tuukka Rask: 'The city of Boston deserves the playoffs'

BOSTON – The Bruins are back in the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, so there will be glorious postseason hockey back in Boston this spring for a city full of hockey fans that thirst for it. 

The B’s clinched at least a wild card spot with authority by shutting out the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 4-0 win on Tuesday night at TD Garden for their sixth straight win while finishing the season at their red-hot best. Clearly missing the postseason cut by a single point in each of the last two years was a bitter pill for the Bruins players to swallow, and in particular the six players on the roster that are still hold-overs from the 2011 Stanley Cup title. 

But it’s also pretty clear this return to the playoffs is for everybody that feels like they’ve been missing out because of late season breakdowns from the Bruins previously malfunctioning group. 

“You know, I think the city deserves [the playoffs]. The organization deserves it, and, you know, we feel like we deserve it too,” said Tuukka Rask, who stopped 28 pucks in the 4-0 win for his career-best eighth shutout of the season. “We fought hard all year to secure a spot, and it took 80 games, so it’s a good feeling. I think everybody can breathe a little easier now, but we’ve still got two games left and then real games start so... but great accomplishment [for now].”

Now it’s about playoff positioning for the Black and Gold, and a mission to win the final two games in order to ensure they capture third spot in the Atlantic Division, and thereby lock up a first round match-up against either Toronto or Ottawa. It won’t be easy given that they’ll play the Senators and Capitals at home close out the regular season, but this team is also playing with “house money” at this point after pushing into the playoff picture. 

“To get it done earlier and later and relieve some pressure that maybe some guys are feeling [is great]. But we did a good job of sticking to our guns and playing the right way, and it was a big win tonight,” said Torey Krug. “This is a really fun city to play in in the playoffs. We still have a job to do with a couple of games left. But, I’m looking forward to it.

“You want to be the team that starts the playoffs off on the right foot and we’re playing the right way. We still have two left to improve our position in the playoffs and you want to do that. You want to feel good about your game entering the playoffs and hopefully you can ride that out, especially with the goalies the way they’re playing right now, it’s easy to play in front of them. It lets us be assertive and aggressive, and it’ll be good for our team.”

Anything can happen, obviously, once the playoffs begin no matter what the seeding or what happened during the regular season, but the Bruins are pretty clearly looking to prolong the six game streak they’re on right into the playoffs. 

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

AP Photo

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

GOLD STAR: Every once in a while Brad Marchand wills the Bruins to a win that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that happened again on Friday night with a three-point explosion for No. 63 in the final 20 minutes. Marchand finished with a goal and three points in 19:57 of ice time along with a plus-2 rating, and played a key role in the three-goal outburst that allowed the B’s to vanquish a 2-0 deficit. It was Marchand that opted not to shoot from the face-off dot with a look at the net in the closing seconds, and instead dropped it down low to David Pastrnak as he curled around the net and pushed a puck past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Marchand finished with two shots on net, eight total shot attempts and a number of big plays in the third period redirecting pucks in close, kicking off shorthanded scoring plays and then setting up clutch game-winners in the final 15 seconds of the game. It’s the kind of night where Marchand played like an MVP even if he isn’t going to get much of a sniff at the Hart Trophy. 

BLACK EYE: Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal for the Dallas Stars, but he also jumped up in the air and clobbered Brad Marchand from behind with a completely unnecessary hit in the third period that went without a penalty being called. Instead it seemed to incense Marchand, who never gave up in the final sequence and ultimately fed a pass to David Pastrnak down low for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining in the game. Benn finished a minus-2 for Dallas while being on the ice for a pair of goals against, had a brutal 1-for-7 performance in the face-off dot and really acted like a punk on the play with Marchand in the third period. Benn is a better player than that and shouldn’t be resorting that level on a fellow star player like Marchand. 

TURNING POINT: Once again the Bruins really turned things around in the third period while outscoring the Stars by a 3-0 margin, and really flooding the Dallas net with 10 of their 36 shots on net for the night. It all started with a relentless shift from Boston’s top line where Riley Nash made a pass from his knees before taking a big hit, and then Brad Marchand redirected a David Pastrnak shot from the slot off his leg and into the net for Boston’s first goal. That first score finally allowed the Bruins to begin building some momentum, score each of the next two goals as the game slipped away from Dallas and once again proved themselves as a hockey club that one doesn’t ever doubt in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Tuukka Rask had a career-high 40 saves and turned away some really good looks from the Dallas offense while showing exactly what the Bruins can be capable of when their goaltending is on point. The only goals that beat Rask were a first period score with droves of traffic in front of the net, and a second period shorthanded score for Jamie Benn where he pulled one of those unconventional finishing moves on Rask at the very end. Rask made 11 saves on the Dallas power play alone during a trio of PP chances, and made a crucial leg pad save on Antoine Roussel in the third period that helped open things up for the goal-scoring outburst late in the game. Hopefully the strong, resounding performance from Rask answers some of the questions about some of his recent so-so performances between the pipes.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 29 – the number of goals this season for David Pastrnak as he readies to become only the ninth Bruins player to hit the 30-goal plateau in back-to-back seasons over the last 35 years of franchise history. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Resiliency. We didn’t want to go quietly for sure. We can live with the end result as long as we play the right way. The end result went our way again in the end, and I think that’s a credit to the guys.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN about another comeback win for the Black and Gold.

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

AP Photo

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

DALLAS - David Pastrnak broke a tie with 12 seconds left and the Boston Bruins scored three straight goals in the third period to rally past the fading Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.

A scramble followed a faceoff in the Dallas end, and Brad Marchand passed to Pastrnak in front. While falling down, he put the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

TALKING POINTS: B's resiliency on full display vs Stars

Tuukka Rask made a season-high 40 saves for the Bruins. Marchand scored Boston's first goal and also assisted on a short-handed goal by Tim Schaller that tied it midway through the third period.

The second-place Bruins won for the first time in three games (1-0-2) to move within four points of Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay. Boston has already clinched a playoff berth.

The Stars are winless in their last seven games (0-5-2). They remained four points behind Colorado for the second Western Conference wild card.

Dallas led 2-0 on a first-period goal by Esa Lindell and Jamie Benn's short-handed score late in the second.

In the third, Marchand tipped in a shot by Pastrnak before Schaller scored on a 2-on-1 with Marchand.

Lehtonen finished with 33 saves.

Lindell scored 2:26 into the game. Jason Dickinson tried to deflect a shot from the right point into the net but the puck went wide right. Curtis McKenzie picked it up behind the goal line and passed to Lindell high in the left faceoff circle. His wrist shot went in off Rask's right arm.

Benn missed two good scoring opportunities early in the second period, but connected at 19:22. He took a pass from Tyler Seguin at the Dallas blue line and had a breakaway when Matt Grzelcyk fell down. Benn slid a backhand under Rask.